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Last Updated: Monday, 11 February 2008, 00:39 GMT
The road to dumping bridge tolls
Kevin Keane
Fife reporter
BBC Scotland news website

Forth Bridge (PA)
Tolls have been collected on the Forth road bridge for 44 years
They have frequently been described as a "tax on Fifers" but now tolls on the Forth and Tay road bridges are no more.

It has taken almost five years for Scotland to become toll free since plans were first put in place to abolish the charge on the Skye bridge.

The Erskine bridge became free two years later and now the Tay and Forth.

It has not been a cheap decision. Traffic crossing the Forth brought in 225m by 2007 and that money must be found by the Scottish Government.

Lone protestor

Since opening in 1964, the Forth Bridge has collected tolls from almost 500 million vehicles. Motorists paid in both directions until 1997, when south-bound collections were abolished.

It is estimated that about 614 million vehicles have crossed the bridge in both directions.

Tolls last increased on the bridge in May 2005 - but only after a public inquiry which was prompted by a single letter of objection from Fife man George Campbell.

Anti-tolls campaigner Tom Minogue said: "Obviously we're very pleased. We didn't think it would happen so quickly.

"The tolls should have been off in 1995 when the bridge was paid off."

'Excessive and unreasonable'

It cost 19.7m to build the Forth bridge, which included a 14.6m loan from central government. By the time loan repayments started in 1984, 7m of interest had been accumulated.

Between its first and final full years of collecting tolls, the number of vehicles using the bridge increased from 4.6 million to 23.6 million.

By 2007, that had allowed the Forth Estuary Transport Authority to collect 225m at the booths.

Amongst the politicians who have called for the fee to be abolished over the years is the prime minister.

In 1985, as MP for Dunfermline East, Gordon Brown described the tolls as "excessive and unreasonable".

Scotland becomes toll-road free
11 Feb 08 |  Scotland
Bridge tolls' demolition begins
07 Feb 08 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
In quotes: Bridge toll abolition
07 Nov 07 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
Concern over bridge staff morale
11 Sep 07 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
Bill aims to scrap bridge tolls
04 Sep 07 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
MSPs vote to scrap bridge tolls
31 May 07 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
Union unease at bridge toll plans
30 May 07 |  Scotland
Salmond plans to end bridge tolls
23 May 07 |  Scotland

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